How to ruin any food: Popcorn balls

Tonight we’re going to ruin popcorn balls. Like them, love them or hate them, you’ll be able to ruin them after tonight!

Before we begin, once more I feel compelled to offer these words:


The rest of this post in intended to be humorous and not to be taken as new culinary treats about to sweep the nation.Any attempt to ingest the substance described below is not suggested and should be avoided. If you do attempt to taste any of the following food related ideas, please be warned that disgust, nausea and possibly even death could be the result.

What they are:

A popcorn ball is basically a bunch of popcorn stuck together with a sweet and sticky substance, such as caramel, chocolate, marshmallows or any other sweet and sticky substance that becomes hard when it cools/dries.

History of Popcorn balls:

The history of popcorn balls is almost impossible to find, there are only two rumors I’ve been able to find:

  • In 1861 E.F. Haskell published her ‘Housekeeper’s Encyclopedia’ which included a recipe for popcorn balls.
  • In Nebraska, one odd summer it was hot and wet. A field of popcorn started popping in the hot sun while the next field over, a Sorghum field, was flooded by rain and rushed toward the popping popcorn, the result was popcorn balls, however they were devoured by grasshoppers and thus no evidence remains.

While that second story sounds like something I would make up to put in here, it is a legend in Nebraska from what I can find. Is there any truth in the rumor? Who knows, all I know is that it was invented by Julius Caesar when he invaded Egypt, but that’s another story all together.

How to make a Popcorn ball:

There are many recipes for popcorn balls out there. A general recipe is all but impossible to offer, however I can offer these ideas and suggestions:

Popped popcorn is a must, a sticky sweet goo is also a must, anything else is up to you.

One recipe I saw tonight was just calling for freshly popped popcorn  mixed with marshmallows while still warm, the popcorn would melt the marshmallows and how the popcorn together in a ball.

How to ruin Popcorn balls:

Now we arrive at the fun part! Ruining the popcorn balls! There are many ways to ruin a popcorn ball, so we’re going to break it down into parts as normal: Sticky substance replacements, Popcorn replacements, Spices, and More ways. Note: a few might have some overlapping.

Popcorn replacements:

Popcorn replacements are of course the first step in ruining a popcorn ball. While they really won’t ruin it all the way, these replacements are a good place  to start:

  • Rice
  • Barley
  • Amaranth
  • Quinoa
  • Wheat
  • Kamut

While these replacements are not normally thought of in the same way as popcorn, they all should pop if care is used.

Amaranth for instance, pops, but is best done roughly a tablespoon at a time, which takes quite a while, however you can make your popped amaranth balls much smaller, which will help ruin them.

Sticky substances:

Sticky substances, is there anything better? Caramel, fudge, syrups of all kinds, can they be ruined? Oddly they can, or rather they can be replaced with other sticky substances that can ruin the finished result. Here are a few ideas:

  • Lard
  • Softened margarine
  • Cream cheese
  • Mayonnaise
  • Paraffin
  • Thick frosting

As you can see, these sticky substances will ruin a popcorn ball by themselves, with the notable exception of the thick frosting. However the frosting can ruin it in two ways:

  1. Too thick and dry to stick well, your popcorn will fall off, leaving your guest with a handful of frosting.
  2. By seasoning the frosting in flavors that do not lend themselves to popcorn.

That brings us to our next part:


Spices are always the first thing we should turn to ruin anything, not because they are bad flavors, but because they can be used against other flavors:

  • Fennel seed
  • Celery seed
  • Cracked pepper
  • Pepper flakes
  • Curry powder
  • Mustard powder
  • Horseradish powder

These should all be mixed into the sticking substance to optimal dispersal. You may try simply dusting them on top of the popcorn, but unless you drench your popcorn in butter first it is unlikely much seasoning will remain on the final product.

More ways:

Finally we arrive at the end, where I offer you several more ideas that don’t seem to fit anywhere else in here, or that may  fit  in more than one spot.

  • Mix root beer (pop) with candy corn, fill round ice-cube tray and freeze.
  • Soak popcorn (unpopped) in root beer overnight, than try to pop. You can also soak it, let it dry and then pop if you have enough time.
  • Mushy vegetables, such as: potatoes, carrots, peas, re fried beans. Make sure to cook them to mush, then roll the popcorn it instead of sticky stuff.

    Another idea is to pop your popcorn and then soak it in one of these:


    Root Beer

  • Vinegar
  • Chocolate milk
  • Soy sauce

Once your popcorn is saturated, crush a handful into a ball. You can either allow it to dry, or freeze the soaked popcorn ball until it is frozen solid. If you decide to freeze them, I suggest serving just out of the freezer to add that extra ruined part of being a block of ice.


That’s all the ideas I have for  tonight, do you know of a way I missed? Let me know  in  the comments!

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it! Have a great weekend!

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